On Sunday 7th October I visited The Brewery Theatre in Bristol to see the play Souvenirs. It is by a London based group called Write To Life who formed together to use writing as a form of recovery working with the Freedom From Torture charity group. They each tell their story of how they ended up here in the UK. I say ended up here in the UK as it was not their intention to come, it was to seek refuge. The play started with an old Senegalese man playing his Kora. It was beautiful, the music and how he completely connected with the instrument. He had everyones complete attention. He received an ongoing applause which made him emotional. That was the hint of how high the emotions were in the room.
I feel a bit uncomfortable addressing Souvenirs as a play, but that is how it is described. And although it is written and staged, it is 5 people’s life stories. Humour is added tactfully, and the horror is laid out in such a way that the group are not asking for your sympathy by giving you every detail, but they are just telling it like it is.
It’s ongoing. These people’s stories are not over. They speak of their application process and how their adjustments were made and the culture shock on arriving. Also how they look for their children every day on the bus.
I wish everyone got the chance to listen. I think people can be pretty naive (putting this a nice way…) in thinking people come to the UK seeking asylum on a hope and a whim. Wanting a better life as in regards to money. I think these people would give anything to just live in peace with their families. Everyone has a right to happiness.
I spoke to a couple of people afterwards from the Freedom From Torture group and gave my contact details offering to help with illustrations as they sell collections of poems written by the group. I hope I could offer something.